I cannot believe this is my first DIY blog…. are you kidding me. I am a person whose life depends on DIY, who can live without food but not without DIY. ehem.. that might be too much of a drag. I am a day to day DIYer who loves creating things out of garbage or inexpensive things. I post the pics of my DIY projects on my Pinterest board or my FB page, and I am very much satisfied with that. So what happened now, what was the need of writing this blog now.
Here is what happened, I got married 😛 and I got a chance to showcase all of my DIY skills at one place 😛 . I think I was more excited to get married not only because I was getting married to the man of my dreams but because I was getting a chance to do lots of DIY projects, under budget and showcase in a single place. It was a challenge and I love challenges. I was ecstatic.
Bummer… that means this is not exactly a DIY blog where I am going to show you how to make something. This is a DIY blog where I am going to share my experience of a DIY wedding reception.
Here was the deal. I live in Massachusetts, USA and we were getting married in India. The functions in India were taken care by my family(especially my sister, she is a future wedding planner 😛 , may be another blog for her). But me and my fiance planned to have a reception here in the states. He gave me a budget of 2500$ for 50 people. Initially I thought may be it would be sufficient, but when I started enquiring about banquet halls and catering, I realized, it is going to be a tough call.
After looking for many banquet halls we finalized one place which was cheaper and was not coming with packages, unlike other places where we have to take all of their services along with the rental. So the room rental(with tables, linens and napkins) with server and cake cutting fee plus taxes they were charging us around $830. I finalized the catering which would cost us $720. We ordered plates and cutlery online, got a very good deal from http://www.webstaurantstore.com/. This costs us $100. Point to be noted is we ordered more number of plates and cutlery as it is a wholesale site. The leftover will be used for future events. I finalized the cake from a home-baker, which costs me $300
So now the total was $1950. That means I had only $550 to do all my decorations. Most importantly not much time. So I have to decide what I am going to do myself and what I can buy. Whatever it is, it has to be cheap. First thing I did was finalizing what I wanted to do. I wanted a photo booth with props, a guestbook with a polaroid camera, a hot chocolate bar, a kids zone with some coloring books, crayons and puzzles, a cake table, and lots of decorations including center pieces.
For the photo booth, I selected a design which was made of real flowers. I went to the florist and showed her the design, she said it would take $300-$400. I dropped the idea of making it with real flowers and thought of doing it myself with pom pom. I needed a structure first, for that my fiance helped building one, from PVC pipes that we got from Home Depot, spent around $20. I started making the flowers backdrop. I bought few pom poms from wherever I would get in cheap, like amazon or sometimes Michaels(with coupons) or Christmas Tree Shop. But soon I realized I will be spending more if I continue to do this, as the structure needed lots of flowers. So I decided to buy tissue papers instead, which costs me $1 for a bunch of them from Christmas Tree Shop, and make my own pom pom. I might have spent max of $20 for all the flowers. Luckily I had lots of tule cloth from a previous project. I glued all the flowers to that and voila my flowers were ready to be hanged. Now I needed white cloth for the backdrop. I bought 2 drapes from Christmas tree shop thinking I can use it later in my house(I always think of re-utilizing) for about $10. The golden sequin cloth was very expensive so when I was in India for the marriage, I managed to buy them for very cheap, around $20. So the total cost for my photo booth was $70.
I was left with $480 now. Bought the guestbook from Michaels, thank God to the Christmas season, there were lots of discounts. I made the first page myself. I could get the guestbook done under $20. I bought the polaroid camera with extra films and auto mount dispenser of self adhesive squares from amazon for $80. I made a hanging with tissue paper to go on top of the guestbook for which I used the same tissue papers I bought for photo booth flowers. So now the total left money was $380.
For the kid zone I bought some cheap puzzles and coloring books again from amazon for around $10. For the hot chocolate bar bought topping for around $10. Bought a juice dispenser in which I intended to serve my own punch for around $15. Ingredients for the punch cost $20. So total left money was $325.
For the centerpieces of all the tables, I wanted to use decorated bottles. I never ever throw glass bottles. Even though I have space crunch, still I keep it, I am the garbage collector :P. I bought some spray paint bottles and painted them all. with different shapes and sizes. Costs me max $10. Also for the centerpieces I wanted to keep bouquet. But during winter flowers are too costly, so I thought why not buy plastic flowers. I bought 5 bunches for around $15 and used some flowers which were already there in my house. A staff from the hotel came and complimented on the flowers. She was shocked to learn that the flowers weren’t real :D, that’s how real they looked. So now the money I was left with was $310.
For the cake table, I used some glass jars from my pantry and few I bought from Christmas Tree shop which I can use later in my pantry. Spent around $10 for them. Bought some chocolates, macrons, spicy Indian snacks for the cake table for around $100. For the decoration of the cake table I bought few paper lanterns for $5. There were some big pom pom with my friend which she was generous enough to share. So the total we spent on the cake table was $115, which brings us to have $195.
The room was small and with all these decorations it would have been enough, but still something was missing. So I thought of making a drape kind of decoration for the roof. It was Christmas time, so we thought of buying lights. We bought 5 packets of lights for around $35, in which we used only 4. We bought white cloth for around $40. The idea was to tie heavy duty thread across the roof so that we can hang the cloth and the lights on it. Luckily the banquet hall had a hanging wooden block in the center of the roof, inside which we could easily place dumbbells and tie the thread to it for support. Clever isn’t it. So for this beautiful decor we spent only $100 including thread and extension cord. This particular piece of decoration enhanced the look so much that I am sure nobody would have noticed anything else would have been missing.
So now the balance was $95. I wanted to make a backdrop for the place where we(the bride and the groom) were planning to sit. So I bought few fans from Christmas Tree Shop and added it decoratively. Around $10. As still I was having the budget I bought LOVE balloons from Amazon. Also ordered bingo game and some 3m tapes for around $30.
Finally went for a final round to Christmas Tree Shop to buy prizes for bingo and to checkout if I can buy anything that will add a zing to the party with the left money. To my disbelief, I bought the prizes under $15. Found some cool inexpensive stuff like crystals with lights which you can switch on and put inside water, it looked fab. I had mason jars in my pantry, so I put those crystals with the lights inside it to give it a sparkly look. Found a bird cage which I thought will look good if I drape it with light strings I had in my house. Also found a white tree which I can place on the projector table to give an accent to the room for $20. So all in all I spent those $45 by making the total left money to be $0.
I was very happy with the final product. We had a gala time. Everyone were very impressed with the decor. The most satisfying part was, it was all done under budget. So if you happen to live here in the USA, and you think if you have to do a event under budget and you always head to Dollar stores for that, I would suggest don’t. Because with my experience the dollar store stuff is not of good quality and you will find only a set of things there. Though Walmart is my favorite store for DIY raw materials, I would strongly recommend checking out Christmas Tree Shop. Not only it has good quality cheap products, but you can use most of it for your home after the use in the event. So its win-win deal.